Chris Preble touches on some of the points that were in the op-ed that I posted last week. He also offers some analysis of the political upshot of the Right’s (two blocks away from) Ground Zero Mosque foolery.
This whole fiasco reflects the frustrating and destructive tendency of the modern conservative movement to make everything into a culture war (here’s Brink Lindsey’s takedown of American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks’s attempt to frame disagreements about what the size of the welfare state should be as a struggle between freedom loving, salt-of-the-earth middle Americans and state worshipping, Euro-wannabe coastal elites).
It’s maddeningly difficult to have productive public deliberation on an important issue when one entire side of the political spectrum interprets everything as evidence that their American identity is being threatened. Of course, strong commitments to private property rights and religious tolerance are part of traditional American identity. But for a large group of populist-nationalist conservatives, these aren’t general rules to be applied dispassionately regardless of the specific circumstance, but instead are values that get lip service but can be outweighed by concern about imagined threats to the ill-defined ideal that is ‘our way of life’.
The Democrats’ monolithic rule over the executive and legislative branches of government is in need of a good mid-term shakeup, but with this sort of nonsense going on, it’s hard to root for more Republican control over anything.